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Textile, woodblock printed lace meander

Origin: Europe, possibly France
21 1/2" H x 33 3/4" W Vertical repeat 13 1/4 in.
Museum Purchase
Acc. No. 1973-408
Fragment of cotton woodblock-printed in a design of vertical stripes of meandering lace and flower clusters tied with ribbon bowknots. The ground is printed in closely set horizontal lines imitating a woven ribbed textile. The colors include three pinks, mauve, brown, black, and pencil blue on natural cotton plain-woven ground. There is evidence of mismatched blocks in the horizontal stripes. Selvages present.
Label:The original inspiration for this block print was taken from fashionable and expensive woven silks intended for women’s gowns. The horizontal lines and other textural effects in the background imitate woven ribbed grounds frequently used on brocaded silks of the eighteenth century.

The mismatching of the blocks and the somewhat coarse ground suggest that this textile was an inexpensive product aimed at an audience that desired fashionable patterns without the cost.The blue was brushed on quickly after printing the other colors, a technique known as “pencil blue.” The rapidity with which the work of penciling proceeded is evidenced by the imprecise application and stray drips from the blue brush.